HR practitioner Paul Knoch reviews The Wisdom of Crowds by James Surowiecki. He finds that while the book is a bit heavy on theory and light on real-life examples, the examples that are provided are revealing and the book raises the important question of whether businesses should look beyond a small field of experts or managers when making decisions.
Remember the game-show sensation “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?” Contestants vied for a prize of one million dollars by answering a series of questions correctly. The questions started out fairly easy and became increasingly difficult. When stumped, a contestant could choose from three “lifelines” for help. One lifeline removed half of the possible answers, leaving the contestant with a 50/50 chance of guessing correctly. Another lifeline allowed the contestant to call a more knowledgeable friend and ask for help. The third lifeline simply polled the audience. If you watched the show, you may recall that the audience was almost always right.